The new generation of renegades

David Edgar“Commentators Nick Cohen, David Aaronovitch and Andrew Anthony all had left-wing parents, and were involved in political campaigning around race, gender and class in the 1970s…. Although none of them has abandoned the whole progressive package, their main target is a left-liberal intelligentsia, which, as they see it, opposed the overthrow of a fascist dictator, Saddam Hussein, and is now in an unholy Faustian alliance – justified by modish, postmodern cultural relativism – with the far right.

“The far right in question is not the BNP, but political Islamism, represented by those main Muslim umbrella organisations that are seen to have links with Islamists in Muslim countries, particularly those who joined the coalition that organised the demonstration on February 15 2003 against the invasion of Iraq….

“Certainly, the progressive left is in alliance with a group whose traditional views run counter to some central planks of its platform. Twenty-five years on from Maydays, I have written a new play (Testing the Echo), which is partly about the temptation – on these understandable grounds – to reject any kind of religious affiliation, to brand fundamentalist Islam as brown fascism, and (thereby) to abandon an impoverished, beleaguered and demonised community.

“For, let’s be clear, the alliance to which the new defectors object – the alliance enabled by a multiculturalism that sought to give visibility and confidence to entire communities – is not just between a few deluded revolutionaries and the odd crazed Muslim cleric. Martin Amis denies he’s declaring war on the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims, but his ‘thought experiment’ about meting out collective punishment on Muslims (travel restriction, deportation, strip searching) ‘until it hurts the whole community’ makes no distinction between followers of Hizb ut-Tahrir and the man in the Clapham mosque. Cohen is careful to point out that ‘Islamism has Islamic roots’, and, clearly, the group that he dubs the ‘far right’ goes beyond the adherents of Jamaat-e-Islami.”

David Edgar in the Guardian, 19 April 2008